Upper Iowa University’s pre-professional programming helps students prepare for admission to professional schools and their future careers, while they earn their respective bachelor’s degree. Projected to graduate from Pacific University College of Optometry in 2021, Billy Auer ’17 counts himself among the recent alumni who are currently benefiting from their pre-professional experience.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, Auer initially chose to attend UIU because of the welcoming environment that started with the faculty and staff during his application process. The Guttenberg, Iowa, native recalls feeling right at home from the moment he stepped on Fayette Campus.
“I knew it was a place that would point me in the right direction to succeed,” Auer said. “There is no denying that Fayette, Iowa, is a small place to live, but the people affiliated with the Peacock community really make the time spent there especially memorable. I wouldn’t have changed my experience there for anything.”
Auer praised UIU faculty for welcoming students as their peers and taking the time to know each individual student outside the academic setting. Because of UIU’s small class sizes and the frequency at which the classes meet every week, the students and faculty form a working relationship that everyone strives to maximize in allowing each student to succeed. While attending UIU, Auer worked closely with her preprofessional advisor Dr. Sara Sheeley, associate professor of biology.
“As my academic advisor, Dr. Sheeley helped me extensively with my application process into optometry school,” Auer said. “There were many times she believed in me when I did not. I am grateful for her efforts with not only me, but also every student she encounters. The graduate application process can be long and challenging, but it is much more manageable when you have an experienced faculty on your side.”
Auer believes one of the most underrated aspects of the college experience is the ability to form new relationships with other colleagues. He noted the culture at UIU welcomes the idea of small group discussions and providing leadership opportunities in and out of the classroom. He has since learned that these experiences can take a person a long way in life, especially in a professional setting.
“I am thankful UIU allowed me to be exposed to so many pre-professional experiences so early in my college career,” Auer said. “UIU provided a smooth transition for me when I came in as an undergraduate, making sure I was catered to every step during my journey. The pre-professional program did the same for me as I transitioned from undergraduate to graduate school. This movement forward can be very challenging at times, but because of the close relationships I was able to form with my peers and faculty through the pre-professional program, there was always an endless amount of support along the way.”